About Me

I look down on the garbage dump from my second-story apartment and ponder. How did I, born in Hollywood, end up in Beit Hanina, a 9-square mile section of East Jerusalem? Claimed by both Palestinians and Israelis as their capital, Jerusalem lives in relentless ambiguity.

I guess I always sought out the “in-between.” After high school, I ran as far away as I could get – Egypt. Studying in Cairo from 1983-1984 was transformational, yes, but also disruptive. How can anyone see the world one way again, after seeing it from the eyes of a Nubian doorman, an old Egyptian Jew, an Ethiopian migrant worker, a freed Palestinian political prisoner, and so many more? In all these people, I saw myself.

It was in 1984 in Haifa that I met the love of my life (who is sometimes a thorn in my side) and we lived nearly twenty years around Boston, Massachusetts. I was assistant professor of cross-cultural understanding at Bentley University, adjunct faculty at Lesley University, and facilitated antiracism, intercultural relations and organizational change with community groups, hospitals, grantmakers, government agencies and corporations. Some of this work was through a consulting company I founded, The Leagora Group, and some as a diversity curriculum designer for J. Howard & Associates. I was also the corporate cultural competence strategist for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Previously, I had a number of activist jobs doing anti-war, feminist, and youth organizing. During the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising), I was coordinator of the Cambridge Ramallah/ElBireh Sister City Campaign.

During those years, I completed my doctorate from Fielding University in Santa Barbara, California focused on social change and structural inequality; a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University, with an emphasis on conflict management and training; and a master’s degree in Human Services from Fielding University which I added to my Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle East Studies from UCLA. I have also had several fellowships, including with Synergos Institute, the Palestinian American Research Center, and Northeastern University’s Middle East Center.

We moved to Palestine in 2004 so that our three daughters could grow up as comfortable and competent in their father’s Palestinian village as they already were in American suburbia. Actually, American suburbia had changed post-9/11. A generalized insecurity wafted through our schools, neighborhoods and media. When my oldest daughter asked, “Mommy, why do you make me be Arab when you don’t have to be?” we knew the United States shouldn’t be the only place our daughters consider “home.”

My husband took at job with the United Nations and I started consulting with Palestinian nongovernmental organizations, international NGOs, and UN agencies doing participatory research, strategic planning, community development, donor communications, capacity assessments, impact evaluations, fundraising, and other projects.

My immediate, profound shock at the distortions in Palestinian civil society caused by dependence on international aid led me to found Dalia Association (www.Dalia.ps), the first Palestinian community foundation, which I directed from 2006 to 2010. Dalia Association seeks to reduce dependence on international aid by reforming the international aid system; promoting local, diaspora and private sector philanthropy; and running “community-controlled grantmaking” programs that enhance civil society’s accountability to local communities. Dalia Association is one of my greatest accomplishments.

Yes, I have lived a thousand lives. I’ve visited the saints in Escipulas, Guatemala, frozen in the Chinese winter on a boat in Guiling, and smelled the legacy of slavery in the arid air of Namibia. Now, in midlife, I am surprised to find myself still hungry. I hunger for a kind of intimacy that writing fiction offers. My characters need me. Their problems implicate me. Telling their stories is both a duty and an honor.

Contact me at nora [at] noralestermurad [dot] com!


59 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hanry says:

    Hi Nora, I would like to know if there is ANY governing Palestinian organization that is OPENLY proclaiming peace with Israel? Or there are any bloggers (like you) or activists on Palestinian side that can openly criticize their leaders of not willing to negotiate with Israel without being killed or injured? Did you publish in your blog a Hamas Charter? Here it is: The Hamas Covenant also known as Hamas Charter, refers to the Charter of the Hamas, issued on 18 August 1988, outlining the movement founding identity, stand, and aims.[1]

    The Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who “fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors.” The charter states that “our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious” and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[2] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.[3][4] The charter also states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they “stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region”.[5] The Charter adds that “renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion” of Islam.[1]

    In 2010 Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated that the Charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons.”[6] Hamas have moved away from their charter since they decided to go for political office.[7] In 2009 interviews with the BBC, Tony Blair claimed that Hamas does not accept the existence of Israel and continues to pursue their objectives through terror and violence; Sir Jeremy Greenstock however argued that they have not adopted their charter since they won the Palestinian legislative election, 2006 as part of their political program.[8] Instead they have moved to a more secular stance.[7] In 2008, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, stated that Hamas would agree to accept a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, and to offer a long-term truce with Israel.[9] In contrast to this, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that any talk of the 1967 lines is “just a phase” until Hamas has a chance to “regain the land…even if we [Hamas] have to do so inch by inch.”[10] Other Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal have also stated repeatedly that “Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it,”[11] and that “we shall not relinquish the Islamic waqf on the land of Palestine, and Jerusalem shall not be divided into Western and Eastern Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a single united [city], and Palestine stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and from Naqoura [Rosh Ha-Niqra] to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south.” How you interpret it? How about Palestinian Charter? Do you agree, that both of them call of destruction of Israel as a State with all the grave consequences for all the Jews living there… and lastly, CAN YOU BE OBJECTIVE HAVING PALESTINIAN ARAB AS A HUSBAND? I hope you will honestly publish my comment and answer all the questions in regard to this comment.Thank you.

    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Hi Hanry, please forgive me for the delay in responding. I appreciate your questions, and while I’m no expert and don’t represent anyone but myself, I’ll try to share my own perspective as clearly as I can, taking each point one-by-one, and let me know if I’ve not responded fully.

      1-You asked if any Palestinian governing organization is calling for peace with Israel. Yes, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is. They are the defacto “government under occupation” of the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. They have called for peace, had regular coordination and relationships with Israel, and engaged in rounds and rounds of negotiations since the signing of the Oslo Accord. Is it possible that you don’t know this? Yet Israel hasn’t followed through on its side. There were supposed to be a final status negotiations after 5 years post-Oslo, but it’s been 20 years and the Palestinians are still occupied, and many things are worse. That is why the PA’s “peace” strategy is so widely discredited. They have agreed to nearly every Israeli demand for absolutely no return.

      2-You asked if there are any bloggers or activists on the Palestinian side that can openly criticize their leaders for not willing to negotiate with Israel without being killed or injured? No one can criticize the PA for not being willing to negotiate, because they do negotiate. They are now criticized for not producing any benefit from these negotiations. But I want to address your implication that Palestinians are killed by other Palestinians if they want peace. Sorry, but this is silly. The only person I know who has been killed for wanting peace was Rabin, and he was killed by an Israeli. Remember? Now, there are people who have been criticized or attacked and even killed for being collaborators, though even this isn’t that common. In other words, if Palestinians secretly provide names to Israeli forces that are then used to arrest or kill other Palestinians, they are considered collaborators and could be at risk. But that has nothing to do with peace, my friend. Those people are risking the lives of friends and family for personal gain (not that I think they should be killed, but so you understand what’s happening, and even that is very rare!)

      3. You asked if I have published the Hamas Charter on my blog. I have not. I do not care about Hamas. My tax dollars are not funding Hamas. I am not complicit in what Hamas does as I am in what Israel does. Period. That said, I’m glad you posted those parts of the Charter on my blog, because it is almost exactly, verbatim, what Israel says about Palestinians, except that Israel has not said their position is no longer relevant — they are implementing their ethnic cleansing on a daily basis. Do you see that? One thing I want to address directly is your assumption that the destruction of Israel as Jewish state has grave consequences for the Jews living there. I think it is critical that any state anywhere in the world provides equality, democracy, safety and dignity to all its residents and citizens. There is no reason to think that a state that is not Jewish would be bad for Jews living there; in fact, I believe Jews will be much safer and happier living in equality with Palestinians rather than as oppressors. This is so obvious to me that I do not understand your line of thinking at all.

      4. You ask if I can be objective being that I am married to a Palestinian. I am most certainly not objective, though I don’t think it has all that much to do with my husband. I am not objective because I am passionately committed to peace with justice, and that means that I take a stand and am not neutral about injustice, especially when I am funding it with my tax dollars. I have never claimed to be objective, and I have always agreed with that famous quote (was it MLK?) who said something like, people who are neutral in the face of injustice are complicit with the status quo.

      Your comments are welcome.

      • guy says:

        HI NORA
        I will quote you and then react
        1. “Palestinian governing organization is calling for peace with Israel.”
        Statements against the world it’s true. Speeches in Arabic – it is absolutely false.
        For example, Gibril Rgob (Sports and Senior Minister of the Palestinian Authority) say – if we had nuclear weapons to Israel were Mftzitzm
        Attachment clip
        Or example
        Saying that
        Israeli Devils and Dogs
        Abbas’ advisor: praising suicide bombers
        Kill Israelis. Video attached
        official PA TV children’s program :

        2. “2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. They have called for peace”.
        IN THE West Bank live less than a million Arabs
        Children receive this education and public PA – View Video:

        3. “and the Palestinians are still occupied”
        Whether there was a Palestinian state? When? When founded? Who were the leaders?
        When Israel “occupied” Palestine?

        4. “But I want to address your implication that Palestinians are killed by other Palestinians if they want peace. Sorry, but this is silly. The only person I know who has been killed for wanting peace was Rabin, and he was killed by an Israeli”.

        Not allowed to talk about peace IN THE Palestinian street. Otherwise … you’re dead.
        During the last operation in the Gaza Strip – Hamas murder of 20 people came out to demonstrate against the war.
        During the last operation in the Gaza Strip – Hamas murder suspects people in the streets of Gaza In front of the crowd – just like ISIS.
        You know just the Yitzhak Rabin
        Who gave Hebron to the Palestinians?
        Who gave the Palestinians the Gaza Strip?

        Gaza Strip – Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders
        Where they could build a state of Singapore Arab – with education, tourism, hotels, and good governance.

        What did they do? Established the State of rockets and missiles and underground tunnels

        5. “they are implementing their ethnic cleansing on a daily basis”

        This statement of complete ignorance. Most likely you do not know the state of Israel. All citizens have equal rights, ranging from a simple citizen of Arab judges to the Supreme Court, Arab beauty queen, winning programs Realty Arab, Arabic language studies.
        Arabs in Israel are the only Muslims in the Muslim world
        Living in a democracy, rich life, freedom of thought, economic freedom, academic freedom, and all human rights exist in the world.

        6. “There is no reason to think that a state that is not Jewish would be bad for Jews living there; in fact, I believe Jews will be much safer and happier living in equality with Palestinians rather than as oppressors. This is so obvious to me that I do not understand your line of thinking at all”.

        I’m afraid you’re out of touch
        Throughout history – in every country where Jews lived, they were murdered and slaughtered just because they were Jews.
        Now you claim that Jews can live alongside Arabs without fear?
        Do you know how many Jews were slaughtered in Arab countries – before fleeing to Israel?

        You are welcome to explore what is happening currently in Europe with regard to the Jews. And I have not talked what would happen to the Jews under Arab regimes \ ISIS

        7. You do not have to be objective

        But you have to stick to the truth.

        Want to continue to have a discussion about the truth? I would love to


    • Lara says:

      I strongly suggest that you look up the Likud Party’s The Likud charter is available on http://www.knesset.gov.il.

      Here are some excerpts:

      The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.

      The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.

      Judea and Samaria are the West Bank. I am not aware of any refutation of that charter.

      The Party charter is against international law, the roadmap and other peace plans.

      An then Netanyahu claims that he has no Peace Partner….

    • LOL Hanry

      And what is the zionist “charter”? Isn’t it ethnically cleansing the Palestinians and omitting Palestine and planting the racist “jewish state” on its place?

      We, bedouins say “The camel cant see how his neck is crooked” .. look around your neck Hanry before accusing others !!

      I am one of those free Palestinian bloggers you are looking for who stand up for the simple people of Palestine

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Nora,
    I just watched you talk on Gaza, and I want to thank you for educating me. I have been studying everything I can find on the subject and when you said ‘How can there be security (for Israelis) when there is oppression?’ summed it all up for me..

    It is a difficult subject! I also read a great quote this week, how can the eyes see when the heart is blind. I am truly amazed how many Israelis dont care about life for ‘their second class citizens’.
    I believe the world is waking up to the Palestinians situation.

    May each side live in Peace, and all be treated equally..

    Thank you x

  3. Zerit Haile says:

    I admire you for standing up with the victims. Hope Palestinians and Jew can live in peace

    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Me too!

      • Saar says:

        Hi Nora. I think you would have a very interesting take on the events. I am amazed however that you don’t seem to think Hamas should take any blame. As an Israeli living in a self critical country that is looking to improve itself and contribute to the world, I hear many voices about the current conflict and the ongoing conflict between Palestinian and Israeli nations. I hear voices from the left and right within Israel, but funny how when it comes to Palestinians like yourself, you seem to offer only one narrative. Unfortunately, thinking people don’t buy it. They read Hamas literature, they hear their leaders wrath, their school curriculum, and feel their rocket attacks clearly aimed at civilian areas. Do you really think that Israel is going to sit and allow its citizens to be killed by terrorists. Do you honestly believe that if Israel really believed it had a partner it would not love to coexist with its neighbors. You baffle me, because you seem to be educated and critical. But are so blinded by your hate, you won’t admit the truth. I wish you the best of luck and I hope that your people find a way to elect leaders who really care about their future and not just bent on destruction.

      • Nora Lester Murad says:

        I am very very critical of Hamas and all Palestinian leaders. I am MORE critical of Israel because Israel is a state, and is funded by my tax dollars. I am American, not Palestinian. I focus on my own responsibility as an American. Do you focus on your own responsibility as an Israeli?

  4. Jacquiline Hetherington says:

    Hi Nora,
    Just watched R.T. Noticed the Professor stomped off, obviously the truth is too terrible to confront. Thank goodness for voices of reason and honesty from you and your fellow speaker, not forgetting Peter Lavelle whose straight talking is a breath of fresh air. Voices like yours are vital when so much spin and lies abound.
    Good Luck

    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Thanks Jacquiline, but how to reach people who aren’t already convinced? How to shake free those who are already captive to the spin?

    • Megan says:

      Actually, I felt the Israeli professor was being bullied by the obnoxious host and it’s a shame that he was shut down. Peace will never happen if people can’t even have a civil conversation.

      • Nora Lester Murad says:

        I agree. I had a lot of things I wanted to talk to him about and was disappointed when he left.

  5. moshe says:

    Ms Nora Lester Murad;
    I am an Israeli since 1970 when I made aliyah from the USA

    May I wish you long life and best health ?

    On the other hand you are the opposite of my Jewish wife and my daughters, so please consider how difficult these well wishes were to write.

    All my daughters gave years of their youth to serving in the IDF, (luckily) unhurt physically or emotionally…discharged
    with honor

    1. pal-Israeli conflict has produced many misconceptions
    on both sides.

    2. ham and hiz have tries their best to destroy and murder Israeli civilians only to be answered by the IDF, which has
    caused great damage to ham/hiz infrastructure…at the cost of hurting and killing some pal or Lebanese civilians.

    NO Israeli explanation is needed for the IDF unproportional reply …No Israeli explanation can justify IDF actions/errors that caused innocents to suffer.

    I find it strange that (normal) Jewish people act as you have

    May the pal rocket and guided missiles; the pal hand made bombs and the pal knifings; the pal treachery/BDS NEVER reach your door or your loved ones.


    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Hi Moshe. I appreciate your comments and would like to reply, but I don’t think I fully grasp what you’re saying. It seems like you’re contradicting yourself. But throughout you seem to be concerned about harm to people, and that is a concern we share. I hope we’ll find our way to a just peace where everyone can be safe and free.

  6. Barry Rosen says:

    Nora are you going to be a human shield for Hamas?

    Palestinian Journalist Blames Hamas for Problems In Gaza

    “I feel even sorrier today for the people in Gaza as Hamas is pulling a publicity stunt with their blood.”
    Rachel Avraham
    June 30th, 2013

    Palestinian journalist Mudar Zahran claims the Hamas government in Gaza is corrupt, abuses its people and is to blame when Israel is forced to air-strike terrorist targets.

    Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian Palestinian political activist and writer who calls for peace with Israel, has emphasized that he believes Hamas is responsible for all qassam rockets fired into Israeli territory, even when the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or another group is the one taking responsibility. While noting that there are disagreements between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, especially in the wake of the present crisis in Syria, Zahran still believes that Hamas permits the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to wage attacks against Israel from Gazan territory for it is in their interest to do so.

    “Having a confrontation between Gaza and Israel is good business for Hamas, who makes a lot of money off of the deprivation of average people in Gaza. Hamas is to blame for every thing that happens in Gaza. They don’t care for the blood and humanity of their people,” Zahran claims. “Hamas is creating a situation where scarcity and poverty help make people submit. This is nightmarish. The only job Gazans can have is joining Hamas.”

    Yet at the same time, Zahran has emphasized that due to the rise of President Morsi in Egypt and the international political situation, it is better for Hamas if the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and not them, gets the credit for initiating the violence. According to Zahran, “Hamas is not about Islam any more but business and investment. It is a true dictatorship. It is willing to sell its own Islamist values for the sake of money if the right price is offered.”

    He continued, “People should realize that Hamas has changed. Hamas now wants interest, whenever they can find it. They will give in for whoever they are getting money. Hamas leaders now have a lot to lose if they are killed or attacked. They have houses, German cars, millions of dollars.” For this reason, Hamas gives the Palestinian Islamic Jihad the green light to operate against Israel, while refraining from taking actions on their own, so all Israeli retaliations will affect the Palestinian Islamic Jihad more than them, while the blockade works to distract the Palestinian people from Hamas’ oppression and to consolidate Hamas rule over Gaza.

    Mudar Zahran in a conference
    Zahran claimed, “I feel even sorrier today for the people in Gaza as Hamas is pulling a publicity stunt with their blood. Ultimately Gazans are paying the ultimate price for Hamas arrogance, ignorance and stupidity.” He continued, “Every year, Israelis should expect a couple of occasions where Hamas attacks, which shows how little value Hamas has for its own people when Israel counter-attacks. Even if I was an Islamist or pro-Hamas, it would be very stupid to send a rocket that rarely causes damage to receive F-16’s in return. They hide in the bunker and let their own people suffer.”

    Zahran concluded, “The world should do something to counter Hamas as it is just like al Qaeda, willing to butcher its own people. I cry for anyone hurt from my people but I take the blame on Hamas and Hamas only.” Zahran believes there is no military solution to the Gazan problem. He suggests empowering moderates in Gaza to overthrow Hamas by getting an outside entity to provide Gazans with jobs and the economic means to throw off the yoke of Hamas. He believes that should this happen, Hamas could be overthrown within a few years.

    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Hi Barry. I am not going to be a human shield for Hamas. Does that answer all your questions?

      • guy says:

        Hamas protection, protection of the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas – it is to be human shields for Hamas.

        Should not be a prude

        World War II killed 20 million German citizens – whether there was a massacre? Or was there absolute justice?

  7. Ramy says:

    Hey Nora,

    I have noticed you are interested about recycling initiatives in Gaza, Palestine. I am a Gazan who founded a regional initiative to promote recycling in the MENA region. You can know more about my work by visiting Zero Waste MENA website http://www.zerowastemena.org

    I wrote one article before about the challenges Gaza face in the waste management sector


    and one more about the MENA region in general


    If you need any further sources, please drop me an email


    • Nora Lester Murad says:

      Rami, thanks so much for sharing this information. I know a lot of people will be interested in looking up your website and, hopefully, supporting your work. I’m going to check it out right now!

    • guy says:

      Where are you physically located?
      Which country?

      Is the Gaza Strip
      Judea and Samaria
      The entire Muslim world ..
      Is it possible to speak, to write, to think about human rights? Women’s rights? Freedom of thought? Freedom of movement? Freedom to set up a newspaper? Freedom to set up and write a free website?

      Golda Meir, the former Israeli prime minister, once wrote: “When the Arabs will love their children more than hating our children – will be peace.”

      Please check this statement – is correct

      • I strongly recommend you to open your eyes at this:
        In an article titled, “The israeli Terrorist State and its Mossad Assassins,” the late professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor, and chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights from 1970 until 1990, famously wrote: “There is nothing new in the fact that Israel is a terrorist state, which, almost from its inception, has used its intelligence service (the Mossad) to assassinate people on foreign soil with any violence or terror it considers necessary for its ends.”

        A”sekf hating jew”? LOL … I know your answer already


  8. Carl Zaisser says:

    Hi Nora,
    Hope things are well enough. It’s a measure of how difficult things are that when Kerry breezes through for a few hours and makes a public comment, despite actually NOT doing anything to make things change, that all the settlements are illegitimate, it somehow feels uplifting. Not sure how that feels where you are.

    I wonder if you can help me with something. I am having a house built on a Greek island. It’s kind of an investment instead of letting retirement money just sit in a bank account. A financial investment, but also an investment in a lifelong dream. From the east and southeast coast of this island, Karpathos, there is nothing across the Mediterranean until one comes to Egypt and Palestine (okay, Israel too).

    I wonder if you could shop for me for a traditional Palestinian woman’s dress. I have in mind the traditional black with mainly red embroidery, but am open so something else also that is aesthetically appealing. I don’t know how the post is out of Israel to Austria. I guess I could wire the money, if you found something, from my bank account to yours. Anyway, consider this a bit, and let me know if you can do some shopping for me.

    Still reading tons of books. Currently reading a book recommended in one of Norman Finkelstein’s books, on the details of the Nazi scene and how it affected the DEvolution to the ‘final solution’, Arno Mayer’s “Why Did the Heavens not Darken”.

    Hope you, Hani, and family are well.

  9. Eman shatara says:

    I just came across your blog and just wanted to let you know you are such an inspiration. I’m moving to Ramallah in a one week and I’m feeling so anxious. We live in the states and now feel its time to take our 4 boys there to experience life, culture, family and traditions. I hope this will be a great experience for them. And I also hope that I meet people just like you.

  10. Laura O'Neill says:

    Hello Nora, what an interesting story!
    Having also once met the love of my life from Haifa, I was drawn to your story, however a tragic accident split the two of us apart and ended my potential story down that path. It is nice to see that you have located your family to Jerusalem, however the comment of your daughter about being an Arab struck an eerie chord with me. Children always seem to see the world through eyes that candidly reflect the madness of adult societies.
    Thanks for your blog.

  11. Seems like you actually know quite a lot pertaining to this particular issue and that exhibits as a result of this particular posting, termed “About Me | Nora Lester Murad”.
    Thanks ,Alvin

  12. Mike says:

    I worry you are fixating on one component of the problem (and proposing a solution) in a way that further compromises the victims. There may be a way to avoid adding more weight onto the backs of those carrying the heaviest burden. This requires us all to think critically about ways to empower the victims of Israeli/US economic, military, political, physical occupation of Palestinian life, rather than run the risk of almost blaming those rationally choosing an opportunity for an income and a slightly better life by taking or working for international aid.

    All mainstream participants (International NGO’s, human rights groups) working to claim some efforts in Palestine have “benevolent Zionists” among their donors. It is not an accident that the recipients of these donations are less likely to rock the boat when they know their money is coming from donors (or entire government entities) who get “concerned” about some kinds of behavior (including public education and marketing messaging).

    As one component to a larger strategy of educating the public, promoting BDS globally and supporting smaller groups who are doing the same and taking other actions to end the occupation and help Palestinians, I would turn to the folks at the highest levels of these compromised mainstream organizations and require that the sacrifice start with them. Cut out funding from those with direct links to the skewed/biased politics of the occupiers requiring you to make allowances for (or keep silent about) Israeli expansion, occupation, oppression, harassment, Apartheid and endless violations of international law.

    I would present this rewarding outcome: stop taking your funding from them and watch what happens. The world knows the truth about Israel/Palestine and they are ready to reward all groups who have the courage to stand up strongly and uncompromisingly for human rights. They will reward you.

    Saying this means expecting more from the leadership of every group claiming to do good work in Palestine. It even means educating their Western staff about what it means to be uncompromisingly for human rights, working to end to the occupation of Palestine, and to be critical of Israel.

    In the end, the goal is to empower the people you are helping, not by telling them how to help themselves in a rigged system, but by helping them win their case against the people trampling on their chances of survival.

    Also, there are plenty of very good and useful individuals within the international aid and human rights groups working to help Palestinians and influence a detachment from funding that constrains them. We shouldn’t discourage the folks doing that good work, but, again, seek ways to empower. INMHO

    • admin says:

      Hi Mike, assuming that you’re replying to my articles about boycotting aid (Oct. 2012), then I think you and I are actually quite close in position. All I’m saying is that Palestinians should consider rejecting aid that comes with detrimental conditions, and I’ve shared a draft of criteria we can use to distinguish at http://www.noralestermurad.com/2012/10/18/draft-criteria/. Would love your further comments on that page.

  13. Sam Eisenstein says:

    We were delighted to meet your family when you were in Pasadena. The time was all too short. The world needs so many more people like you.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much, Sam. You are dear friends and have been, despite our years without communication, for 35 years! Imagine that!

  14. Alondra Miller says:

    Hi Nora,

    Wow and to think I knew you when. Your writing is wonderful, and you paint such a colorful picture. I would love to read your fiction when you get around to it. Until then I will keep reading your blog and can’t wait to see you in July!

  15. Gillian Lewis says:


    So glad I finally clicked on your link on FB and then subscribed to your blog. I too love the way you write and am proud to have spent time with you in the early 80s, before you headed out into that great big world to do and see SO much.

    I am very good friends with a lovely young woman who struggled with the prejudice of having a Palestinian father. She, and each of her siblings, had spent at least a year in Palestine with their father. She had many interesting stories to tell.

    I am so grateful that having raised my children as Unitarian Universalists, they were exposed to many different cultures and religions. I taught religious education a few times while my kids were growing up. I most enjoyed the year that I taught the curriculum on world religions. We visited a mosque in Corvallis, Oregon in 2002. The kids got a unique perspective from the young women of the mosque, who told what it was like to go to school with angry, distrustful Christians in the post 9/11 atmosphere.

    I look forward to reading more of your writing. I am proud to know you!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your wonderful encouragement. My high school years feel like another world to me, but here you are, commenting on a blog I write about my daily life today. Things do come full circle somehow. I am pleased to be back in touch and appreciate your sharing your own experiences. I hope you’ll share more.

  16. Hi Nora

    I really like reading your writings.

    I wish that I had got to know you better when we were working together. Also I should have come to see you last month when I was in Jerusalem/Ramallah.

    There will be a next time!!

  17. Anwaar Jabr says:

    Hi Nora,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog, I love your thoughts and I love how diverse they are. It’s true that I haven’t met met you in person, but I am very proud that I know someone like you. I would love to read more and more of your work :)


  18. Amira says:

    Hi Nora,
    This is a lovely blog! I came across it after reading your post on Arabic Lit (in English). I had read about the Dalia Association and really admired it.. now coming to think of it, I might even have met you in Cairo at a conference some time ago. If my memory is not as rusty as I believe it is, you might even have given me a brochure and talked to me about the association.
    I look forward to reading more and more posts from you.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much, Amira. I’m so glad to have you as a subscriber! Please do help me spread the word, and I hope you’ll be active in sharing your experiences.

  19. Basma AbuSway says:

    Hi Nora

    I love your writing, so interesting and saying too much in an amazing way.

    thanks for sharing it with me.

  20. Raquel "Rocky" Sanchez says:

    Hi Nora,
    It’s so great to read about your life and perspective on your blog. In some ways, you are in the same place you were when I saw you last – looking on the bright side and finding ways to help. I’d love to meet your girls someday. I’m living in Pasadena and have a 5-year old daughter. Maybe we’ll make a trip to Palestine someday. Let me know when you are in the U.S. My work takes me all over the country, so maybe coincidence will bring us together somewhere soon.

    • admin says:

      Rocky! So nice to connect with you after so long. I’m glad you find the blog interesting. Please share your experiences and opinions, too.

  21. Waad says:

    This is so great, Nora. Thanks for sharing with me and keep writing!

  22. H.Rogers says:

    So interesting! I’m really enjoying your blog. Your description of Palestine is priceless. I’ll be checking back often to ‘experience’ your experience;)

    • admin says:

      Thanks and please share your experience, too. With lots of different perspectives, we begin to get closer to the many truths. Don’t ya think?

  23. Amanda says:

    Hi, I just stumbled across your blog on an average Saturday afternoon, and usually I don’t post on things such as this, but I find your blog fascinating. As well as your perspective. See, I am pursuing a relationship with a first generation American-Palestinian who’s father was born in Ramallah. I at first was hesitant to have anything to do with the Arab culture because of the stereotypes the media push as I am a red headed strong willed woman, but I absolutely love the culture. They are some of the kindest people I know and definitely the most hospitable. The american culture is quite bland, rude, and stuck up in comparison. But you definitely have a wealth of information regarding that part of the world. Do you have any advice and tips to make blending cultures a bit easier, at least for my family, who have slowly been warming to the idea of dating a Paletstian?

    • admin says:

      I wish you lots of luck in your relationship, Amanda. I think all relationships take luck as well as hard work. I’m glad you’re loving the culture, and through you (and your love), others will let their guard down and open up. It is so sad that racism and stereotypes and fear get in the way of seeing one another as human beings. As for tips, I can’t think of anything that can be shared in a comment, but I’ll contact you by email and we can share experiences. I can say that in my 30-year relationship, cultural differences have brought both challenges and rewards, but overall, I think gender differences have been an even bigger source of conflict. I wonder if that’s true for others “out there” too?

    • guy says:

      Arab culture
      Centuries ago – is one of the largest in history

      But look what happens TO THE Arab culture in – 100-200-300 years.

      And certainly no such thing as “Palestinian culture”. You are welcome to teach me what it is – “Palestinian culture”

  24. Vicki Tamoush says:

    Habibti Nora, I don’t have adequate words to tell you how much I admire you for the way you are living your life. May all you do be blessed.
    (P.S. There’s something about that picture of you at the wall that reminds me so much of your mom and her own courage, decades of it, speaking truth to power.)

    • admin says:

      Such nice words about me and my mom, who is, truly, a model. And YOU are a model for me and so many. I hope you’ll be willing to write about your experiences with Christian-Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue here on my blog. Everyone needs to know about the work you do.

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